Heartland Star

Mizzou graduate Neal E. Boyd of Sikeston won the 2008 America’s Got Talent competition on national television. The purse was $1 million and the opportunity to make his living as a singer.

Neal E. Boyd walks into a Columbia ice cream shop near campus to order a sundae, and the young woman behind the counter stares at him for a moment before asking, “Do you watch America’s Got Talent?” 

His cover blown, Boyd, BA ’01, laughs and says he is the MU singer who won the AGT competition. Boyd finishes his ice cream, waves to the smiling clerk and walks to Jesse Hall, where a maintenance worker stops sweeping the steps to ask Boyd’s companion: “Is that the opera singer?” 

Anonymity went by the wayside for Boyd when 12.5 million viewers watched him win the 2008 TV talent competition on the show’s finale. He’s now the recognizable big guy with the big voice and a changed life. 

When Boyd strolls down the sidewalks of New York City, people call him by name and wave. On vacation in Honolulu, his dinner went cold while he posed for snapshots. When in St. Louis, if he walks near the Arch, a trail of fans follows.


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Campus: UMC
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County: Scott